Another article by our new author Jet, this time it’s a throwback article to a simpler time. Back to the 90s we go! Hope you enjoy!
In the 40 years that in-home gaming has grown, we have seen hundreds of games that rise up among their peers. Some of these are short term, lasting only as long as the console they were born into, and burning out with the end of the era. Some, however, stand the test of time, continuing to inspire and awe new players well after its contemporaries have faded into obscurity. While titles like Joe & Mac or Vigilante 8 may be outstanding games, they were always overshadowed by legends like Mega Man X and Sonic the Hedgehog 2. This doesn’t make these oft less remembered titles any less excellent, but what makes these legends unforgettable?
Today, I present for your reading pleasure, a brief review of a legend among legends; a game that needs no other introduction as it continues to be not just the gold, but the hope diamond standard of an entire genre, universally lauded as one of the greatest games of all time, a title that has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity with the single choice to save or kill the animals: Super Metroid.
Released in ’94 and the 3rd title of the series, Super Metroid took the tried and true formula and rewrote it into gospel. The story picks up where the previous game left off, with the baby metroid being a focal point of the plot. A plot, by the way, that includes no in-game text or dialogue of any kind and still manages to tell an incredibly compelling and meaningful story of reunion and loss. The dev team for Other M could learn a thing or two from this, less is more or some such. Also that talentless voice acting of a character who has never before had a voice is probably a bad idea.
We are immediately reminded of the original Metroid, as we return to that famous first room of Brinstar where it all began, going left, yet again, for morphball. With the return to Zebes, we also see the return of all of the previous upgrades, items, and tools, as well as the premier of a plethora of new items that revolutionized gameplay and have become staples in the series and each inspired dozens of similar items throughout the genre. From Hollow Knight’s take on speedbooster, the crystal heart, to Axiom Verge’s powerbomb equivalent, the address bomb, we see these items time and again and we credit them for what they are and we enjoy their gameplay and the differences made to distinguish the tool from others like it, but high jump boots will always be high jump boots regardless of their name.
Then there’s the music. I’ll save this for Music Mondays because most of the tracks deserve a much closer look, however, all it takes is a quick stop over at YouTube looking up “Metroid remixes” to really appreciate what players think of the music. A soundtrack and a level should mesh and compliment each other, good level design requires it, great level design demands it. This soundtrack goes above and beyond and compliments not just this game, but half the series, and does it well. And on a personal note, this soundtrack inspired my journey into college studies of theory and composition, as well as several of my own remix projects.
There are a lot of specific nuances to this game that make it what it is, and a lot of these are things that can’t simply be described, only experienced. Its like trying to describe the Mona Lisa, you can try with all your wit and charm to paint a verbal picture of the beauty, but it will never truly compare to the awe of seeing it yourself.